Marquez Leads On Close Opening Day in Australia

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Marc Marquez heads into Saturday’s final practice session with a slight advantage over Jorge Lorenzo after topping the timesheets on day one at Phillip Island. The world champion edged ahead of Lorenzo in the closing minutes of FP2 but with a second covering the top 13 riders, there is still plenty to play for in FP3 with Q2 spots up for grabs.

The morning session was disrupted by typically inclement weather on Phillip Island with Lorenzo finding a gap in the showers to go fastest and it looked as though he would complete a Friday double as he set the early pace in FP2. It wasn’t until the riders switched to softer rubber in the closing minutes that the Spaniard was threatened with Cal Crutchlow going top but Jorge quickly responded to regain the advantage.

The final word would go to Marquez though who knocked five hundredths of a second off Lorenzo’s benchmark to finish the day on top. Maverick Vinales pulled a scorching lap out of the bag in the dying seconds to take third for Suzuki while Andrea Iannone relegated Crutchlow’s LCR Honda to fifth.

Motegi winner Dani Pedrosa was sixth fastest, half a second off the pace, while Danilo Petrucci snatched seventh ahead of Tech 3’s Bradley Smith. Championship leader Valentino Rossi was ninth, paying the price for failing to get the best out of his new tyres late on, and will face a nervous FP3 before his place in Q2 is confirmed.

Aleix Espargaro heads into Saturday in possession of the last top ten spot having fractionally outpaced the impressive Jack Miller but with three factory class riders lurking further down the order, tomorrow morning’s session is sure to shake up the order.



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